Share Your Sleepless Family Travel Stories to Win

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I’m currently on a spring break trip with my own family + another miles and points loving family that also has a young kid (so apologies for the light posting the next couple days).  We are having a blast making the most of our miles and points, and it is so great having another kiddo for mine to play with (even though there is a little bit of an age difference that will lessen over time), but one thing is very clear…trips with kids means less sleep.  The number of young children on the trip directly correlates with a smaller amount of sleep.

When one is done with a nap it is pretty much guaranteed that the other will be ready for theirs, but being quiet for the other sleeping little for a couple of hours isn’t an easy task for a small kid.  Murphy’s Law of Little Children also states that if one goes to bed easily and early at night or sleeps in a bit in the morning, it is pretty guaranteed that the other one will be wide awake at that time.  Normally that’s not a big deal, but since when on vacation you are often sharing a smaller space than normal it can get comical!

The funniest part so far (other than C literally falling asleep sitting up yesterday) was the mom of the other family we are traveling with trying to be nice and let her husband sleep in this morning, so she took their two year old out to the living room when he woke up to let the husband sleep peacefully a bit longer in the room…. However, my husband had already waived the white flag and retreated out of our room to the couch in the living room to try and escape our coughing and kicking four year old and get a little more rest.  Wide awake two year old, meet sleepy dad on the couch.


Family travel means more fun, but less sleep.  It’s a law of family physics.  It also means more coffee for all the adults in the morning!


Morning round of coffee for everyone!

I’d love to hear your stories or tips about creative sleep arrangements while on vacation with a bunch of little ones!  We’ll randomly choose five stories to receive a Mommy Points t-shirt, but all of you will have a big basket of sympathy and empathy from me!

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  1. Our toddler refuses to sleep on a plane.

    We’ve done EWR-PHX-HNL on F and he was up. We did SFO-JFK on business in a United PS plane and he was up.

    It sucks because WE want to sleep, but he refuses to. He’s not fussy or wild or anything of the sort, he just doesn’t sleep, instead choosing to play with the IFE (which forces us to stay up and monitor him, lest he put on some R-rated film).

    Oh, and he won’t recline his seat either.

    #FirstWorldProblems I suppose 🙂

  2. My story was with my then 5 year old from a few summers ago. Our first family plane ride was to a conference I attended for work and my wife and son came along. The travel day was long as they typically are…and flying was new to my son, so he couldn’t sleep at all.

    At the conference, the first evening there was a reception that my wife and son were invited to attend. We went and had some snacks, a drink, chatted with people we knew, etc.

    My son very quietly disappeared and fell asleep in the corner of the reception hall. He was out cold and not going to wake up to walk back to our room. We were at a large resort and the walk to our room was quite a distance. I ended up carrying him to the room – his head on my shoulder and lanky body flapping around (my son has always been tall for his age). While the walk with him in my arms tired me out greatly, it also brought back great memories of carrying him when he was a little guy. Now that he’s 7, I don’t think I could do that walk with him again!

  3. When my son was 12 weeks old, we took a trip to London. The first few nights were fine but by the 4th night he refused to go to sleep. After hours trying, we finally bundled him up (it was Oct and we’re from LA), strapped him into his stroller and took him for a walk. This is how we ended up walking around Notting Hill at 3AM on a Thursday night. It took him about 20 mins to finally fall asleep, however we were so nervous that he’d wake up again, we kept walking for almost an hour. You never saw two new parents more gingerly walking a stroller down some stairs, to get back into the flat, in your life. But it was a lesson well learned and we ended up employing what we came to call “The Notting Hill Cure” a few more times after that.

  4. This is the third trip we have taken with two kids. For the first time ever, the girls slept in their shared room until 6:45 – a win! Basically, sleep and travel were fine until my oldest (almost 4) moved out of a pack n play at 2. The stories get so bad they all blend together, but I think our two-week Christmas vacation sleep where my 4 year old slept through the night once might have been the worst overall experience.

  5. We were at a very nice hotel when my daughter was about 20 months. We were in a nice big room that was locked off from a very large suite. We could here everything in their room and they could surely hear everything in ours. We tried making a nice sleeping area for my daughter in the entry area but she decided that the hotel crib was absolutely unacceptable and kept screaming in the middle of the night. We eventually had to break our no kids in our bed ever rule but that was not helpful as she proceeded to take up the whole king size bed. Eventually we had to set up the pullout sofa for my husband to get a little sleep since he was at a work conference for his new job. One of my worst sleeps ever.

  6. Flying home with our newly adopted son– 18+ hours of flights from Russia and he didn’t sleep a wink! (which of course means we didn’t either!) I’m glad we never have to see any of those people on that plane again.

  7. My family of 5 went on a 3 month mission trip to Papua New Guinea a few years ago. Our youngest ,Sam, was 2 years old. Needless to say…it was a very long time getting there…especially with late flights and missed connections. The day before leaving on this adventure…i asked my wife…the doctor… if there was any thing that she could give to young Sam to help him sleep. She looked at me like i was crazy! Absolutely not was her reply. He is only 2 years old…for crying out loud. That’s right honey…”for crying out loud”!!! I had flown with Sam on a few domestic flights and was terrified to think about him on so many international flights. I had hoped she would put him on some kind of IV drip system…she refused!! I said if you won’t knock him out …then how about me!! I dreamed of being in the last row of the airplane …next to the restroom…in a medically induced coma…hooked up to some IV drip sleeping concoction and when i started to come to…one of the stewardesses would give me another 10 CC’s. No luck!!!! Dang!!! I think Sam cried,wimpered or screamed for 2 days straight…OUCH!!! I have told my family on many occasions that we are “making memories” and have reminded them that…. they are not all good!!!

  8. An 11 hour drive to Orlando from Middle Tennessee is not that bad. My husband and I had done it before with no problem. Recently though, I decided I could go it alone. I’d even save my sanity if I drove through the night while they slept. HA! My 4 yr old would not sleep and kept his big bro and sis bothered as well. I along with a 5 hr energy or 2 made it okay but with no option to recoup before hitting the parks. Little guy, however, spent his first hours at Magic Kingdom snoozing in his stroller!….I learned: No Disney without Daddy!!!Or chuck up the points to fly!

  9. When they were younger, as in < 1 year old, the crib/pack and play plus a king for us worked great. Now that we have two that are 2 and 4 yrs old it's more complicated as everyone sleeps in a "big" bed (the parents included). Tried a SpringHill Suites with 2 queens + sofabed though the 2 yr old didn't want to sleep by himself so we did one parent plus one kid per queen bed. The 4 year old kicked and moved around, while the 2 year old wanted to play peek-a-boo for an hour after "lights out" time. Going to try it again in a few weeks in southern California in rooms with either 2 doubles (eek…) or 2 queens.. will see how it goes. Hopefully they are so tired out from all the walking and activities we'll do that they'll crash.. yeah, wishful thinking I know.

  10. We took our oldest to Disneyland when she was 2. Really I took my husband and she came along. She absolutely loved it – and got so totally wired she couldn’t sleep at all that night, which meant we couldn’t either. Next day we get to the airport, and she is so overtired/wired she starts running around the entire place like crazy, ducking into security lines, etc. I grab her arm, she jerks away…and suddenly her arm goes limp and she cannot move it. We freak out. Rescue firefighters show up, we end up in the ER where she is diagnosed with nursemaid’s elbow (which magically resolves itself while we are there). We miss our flight, of course, and end up getting home at 2 am.

    She’s 11 now. Good times!

  11. When my daughter was about 15 months we had a late flight into SJC. We didn’t end up at our hotel until after midnight. Then the hotel was out of cribs, although we had requested one in advance. The desk clerk came up with the idea of bringing a mattress from a roll away bed and putting that on the floor for her. It was an idea, but it didn’t work.

    She ended up in bed with us and spent a good 20 minutes at least jumping up and down on the bed. I was so tired at the point, it was after 2am, and I didn’t know how I was going to get up and get going the next morning.

    The upside is that we got 10,000 Club Carlson points for the inconvenience. From now I will make sure to call the hotel the same day and make sure they have my crib held for me.

  12. Ok, I have two. In 2008 we traveled to Cambodia with my daughters (then 6 and 7). For some reason, we were routed MSP-DEN-SFO-ICN-PHN. We started at something like 6am and landed in Phnom Penh at midnight local time. The family were we traveling with had not been back to Cambodia in almost thirty years and all of their families members turned out at the airport to greet us. Then they took us to their home where they had tons of food ready for us (by this time it is about 1:30am local time). They started serving fish-with scales, eyeballs, everything. My girls were so tired and disoriented that I thought they may burst out crying. I leaned over to my husband and told him, “You are going to have to take one for the team here and start eating the fish.” He dug in and I was able to get the girls to eat a bit after that. I don’t even know what time we got to bed.
    The second story involves the same girls two years later. We were traveling to Beijing and spent a few days in Seoul on our way. The girls were way off their schedule and were waking up at 4am. We spent the first day hiking in the hills and the second day visiting all the sites with a local school. By about four o’clock the girls were done and asking to go to bed. I told them they had to stay up until 8pm, otherwise their schedules would continue to be way off. Well, those last four hours were awful. The girls were really tired and begging to go to bed. At one point, my youngest lay down on the floor and rolled herself up in a big fluffy white rug. She looked like a yeti burrito. They kept checking the clock and at EXACTLY 8pm, they ran into the bedroom and jumped into bed. I have never seen more tired girls! Thankfully, they got back onto a more reasonable schedule after that.

  13. Traveling with our less than one year old son is a problem because he refuses to sleep in a pack n’ play. We live in a 2 br condo, so we never saw the need of buying a pack n’ play–we just put him in his crib for sleeping and for naps. When he was an infant we had a small basinet type thing next to the bed.

    However, he is now 11 months old and he has been on 9 trips (usually to grandparents’ houses). It is rough everytime. He usually goes to sleep really well, but then within 2 hours he is screaming that he wants out of the pack n play. We get him out, rock him, put him back in, and his eyes immediately shoot open wanting back out again. He usually ends up sleeping while one of us is rocking him or in the bed between us just so we can at least get an hour or two of sleep.

    Trips where we stay in hotels exacerbates the problem: No rocking chairs. The worst was a trip to Boston when he was about 5 months old. Not only did none of us get any sleep either night, when we went to early dinners , he spent the entire time fussing until one of us held him while standing outside of the restaurant (while the other ate dinner and then visa versa). We always joked that while he was in his stroller looking at us, he was thinking in his head, “I hate vacation” and telling his favorite stuffed animal, “you’re my only friend.”

    We have a trip coming up (again to grandparents) later this month. But, I think they broke down and bought a crib after our trip there over Christmas. If you are a family that likes to travel take my advice, get a pack n’ play. Kids are already out of sorts when they are not sleeping at home. I think it makes it worse when they are sleeping in a contraption that is entirely foreign to them.

  14. We went to Disneyland many times when visiting SoCal to visit family. We decided going to see the Mr. Lincoln attraction would get the toddler twins to nap because walking around was too stimulating. Unfortunately, you can’t take strollers in the attraction. So we would carry the girls in and at the end, verrrry carefully put them in the stroller that another party member would have waiting at the exit. It was good for a pretty decent nap for them.

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